Congress Drops Bid to Crack Down on ZTE over Iran Sanctions Violations

(From RadioFreeEurope/RadioLiberty)

Congressional aides say legislators are abandoning an effort to crack down on Chinese telecom giant ZTE, deferring to a White House deal to save the company despite accusations that it violated U.S. sanctions and sold sensitive technology to Iran and North Korea.

A provision reimposing tough sanctions on the company on July 20 was dropped from a massive defense policy bill that House and Senate negotiators are drafting, provoking outrage from senators who had sponsored the Senate’s provision to get tough on the company.

ZTE was almost forced out of business when the Commerce Department in April barred the company from buying components for its cells phones and other equipment from U.S. suppliers, citing alleged violations of U.S. sanctions against Iran and North Korea.

The company’s move to shut down operations — potentially destroying thousands of jobs in China and the United States — prompted President Donald Trump in May to negotiate a new deal to save the company with Chinese President Xi Jinping. . . .

Senator Marco Rubio (Republican-Florida), an architect of the anti-ZTE language in the Senate’s version of the defense bill, said on Twitter he was surprised that House and Senate leaders negotiating over the bill “caved so easily” to the White House’s wishes.

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